Two months’ jail for instructor after pupil falls from flying fox

AN outdoor activity instructor has been handed a jail sentence of two months for failing to ensure that a Primary Four pupil was securely attached to a pulley during a zipline exercise.

The girl suffered fractures to her elbow, hip and pelvis as a result of falling four storeys, or 11m, during the incident at Concord Primary School on Feb 12, 2020.

Alvina Lee Peiyu, 34, pleaded guilty on Feb 26 to one charge of causing grievous hurt through a negligent act that endangers human life.

District Judge Shawn Ho said the victim could have lost her life, adding: “(This was a) high element case where participants were fully dependent on the guidance and supervision of trained instructors in an inherently risky activity.”

The court heard that Lee had about four years’ experience as a freelance instructor at the time of the incident. She was trained to set up and conduct such activities.

The victim, who was nine at the time, was participating in an outdoor education modular programme at school which was conducted by outdoor education company Innotrek.

On the day of the incident, Lee was tasked to guide pupils at the fourth level of the school, check their safety equipment and send them down the zipline to a platform at the third level.

The children would then walk back up to the fourth floor to return the equipment to the instructor for the next participant.

Lee’s job was to check that the pupils’ personal protective equipment was safely secured and connected to the zipline cable before sending them down.

Another instructor who was initially with Lee had helped to attach the zipline pulley to the harness the pupils were wearing.

The first six pupils completed the course without a hitch. The instructor who was with Lee then left as he had other duties.

The victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was the seventh participant.

Lee failed to notice that the auto-locking carabiner, which was supposed to be securely attached to the zipline pulley, was instead attached to a cable tie.

This meant the entire weight of the girl was borne only by the cable tie. Soon after Lee dispatched the girl onto the flying fox, the cable tie snapped.

The court heard that another instructor had attached the auto-locking carabiner to the cable tie, but Lee admitted that she was supposed to unlock and attach it to the zipline pulley. As a result of the incident, the girl spent 15 days in hospital. — The Straits Times/ANN

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